A fashionable downtown nightclub unlawfully discriminated against four would-be patrons by refusing them entry on the basis of their appearance, a small claims commissioner ruled Wednesday.
Commissioner Diana M. Wheatley found that the Mayan violated state laws against discrimination by businesses in refusing to admit attorney Kenneth M. Lipton and three of his friends because of the way they were dressed.Lipton, 36, said he was gratified by the ruling, which will allow him and the other plaintiffs to split a $1,000 judgment.
"The whole point of this is to get the people not allowed in these clubs to go and file these suits," Lipton said. "My judgment will not stop a club from doing this. It simply shows that it can be done."
Wheatley issued the ruling one day after a hearing at which Mayan owner Sammy Chao and Lipton - clad in the rumpled, short-sleeved turquoise shirt and baggy olive pants he wore to the club - presented their cases.
Larry Nagler, an attorney for the Mayan, said that the club will appeal the ruling to a state Superior Court.
"We don't think the judge made the right decision," Nagler said.
The attorney said the club's policy is not to discriminate and that Lipton and the others were denied entry for other reasons, specifically, because a doorman felt Lipton was verbally "abusive" and might cause a raucus in the club.